Sunday, 26 April 2015

Another trip to the Netherlands: Cycling and a Chateau

We spent last weekend in Netherlands again, the second time Kate and I have been there in 2105. This time we went along with my husband to stay in Valkenburg near Maastricht so that he could take part in the Amstel Gold cycling event.  I wasn't terribly excited by this idea when he first suggested it, not knowing very much about Maastricht and the surrounding area, but actually I was pleasantly surprised.

Valkenburg, a pretty little town which is considerably hillier than the rest of the Netherlands, was heaving with cyclists sitting on cafe terraces and enjoying the sun when we arrived on Friday afternoon.  The Amstel Gold event is very popular with a 'leisure' ride on the Saturday followed by a professional race on Sunday.  Husband joined the queue to register for the 125km ride.  Leisure? Why don't I join him on these events I hear you ask?  No chance - my limit is about 10 miles and I'm a bit too wobbly on a bike and scared of traffic.

All of the hotels in Valkenburg were full so we ended up staying in a very swanky chateau hotel nearby.  It is the most luxurious hotel we have ever stayed in and wasn't cheap so we only stayed one night, moving to a more modest one in Maastricht itself on the Saturday evening after the race. Our 'apartment' was spacious and beautifully furnished, though I'm not sure they'd have been too happy if they'd seen the bike in the hallway.

So Kate and I spent a lazy Saturday morning in this apartment lounging around in our complimentary bathrobes.  Then we explored the grounds where, in addition to the established statues and gardens, there was a sculpture exhibition.

My favourite was this revolving giant Easter egg.

I also liked this metal butterfly - it reminded me a little of the Angel of the North

And, for Kate, there was an opportunity for a bit more science revision.  You can see a tiny inverted image of yourself in the centre of the eyeball.

We also liked this big apple.  The gardens were beautiful and it was a lovely morning so we didn't mind when we had to check out at lunchtime and wait until the ride was over.  We made a picnic in our little kitchen and ate it in Rose Garden - no roses yet but it was a peaceful spot where we enjoyed the sun until husband returned triumphant, having completed his 125 km without too much difficulty and pleased with himself as he was able to overtake others up the hills, having had much practice at this on his usual rides in North Wales.

On Sunday we drove back through Belgium, stopping off en route to have lunch with my cousin and her family who live south of Brussels.  It was great to catch up with her as we only manage to see each other every few years when our visits to Northern Ireland coincide. 

A lovely weekend and a good end to the Easter holidays.   


  1. Well done to your husband!!! It looks and sounds as though you all had a good time. The sculptures are amazing aren't they, I really like the apple one too! Glad you enjoyed it. xx

  2. I'm impressed, that's quite a bike ride. Liked the sculptures, particularly the butterfly. Looks like you had great weather.

  3. I am glad you and Kate enjoyed the weekend away, too. The sculpture park looks like somewhere I would enjoy visiting. Actually, I quite fancy visiting the Netherlands one day. The only time I have gone to a cycling race with Richard was a small local one... I am just not into cycling (although I enjoy watching it on the telly). Richard is doing the Fred Whitton Challenge in two weeks time, down in the Lake District. I was tempted but he is going with his pals and will stay in a caravan that has been to many many races with them. No space for the wives or the children :) Have a lovely week. x

  4. Your daughter has beautiful hair! Looks like a very enjoyable trip, I like a wander in a sculpture park x

  5. Looks like a lovely place to stay. My husband likes cycling too. He had an incident with a cat recently and ended up sliding along the road on his face, hands and knees. Lots of cuts and bruises and broken watch glass (that's going to cost 60 quid to fix!!) The bike was fine so that's alright.

  6. What a pleasant weekend. The sculptures are interesting, I like the butterfly and the apple. Well done to your husband on the 125k, I should think the hills of North Wales probably prepare you for anything! xx

  7. I love the metal angel, what a lovely trip and well done to your fella xx